Daily Archives: October 5, 2012

Are Vaccines Safe For Your Children?


h3>Ask Allison Hagood and Stacy Herlihy about Vaccine Safety

They are the authors of Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines Are Safe and Save Lives, and they will be Desiree’s guests on Skeptically Speaking.

This week, we’re looking at the science – and pseudoscience – that affects the healthcare decisions parents make for their children, and women make for themselves. We’re joined by Allison Hagood and Stacy Herlihy, to talk about their book Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines are Safe and Save Lives. And on the podcast, we’re joined by Skepchick.org founder Rebecca Watson, to talk about pseudoscience that’s targeted and marketed specifically at women.

We record live with Allison Hagood and Stacy Herlihy on Sunday, October 7 at 6 pm MT. The podcast will be available to download at 9 pm MT on Friday, October 12.

Details and links here. Also, that link will have the podcast download when it is prepared.

A big step in battery technology?

I usually avoid writing about research that has not been done yet. I get press releases every day about grants awarded to universities and private companies to pursue one research project or another. There is always some reason those grants are awarded, some prior research that indicates a potential finding. The early indications of what could happen in combination with the verification of wonderfulness of the research team demonstrated by six or seven figures of dollars being provided to develop the work results in a press release with promise. The thing is, the potential results often don’t turn out, or turn out very differently than expected. The end product may be very worthwhile in the end, of course. However, disseminating information about research projects at the early stages mostly serves to spread misinformation because a potential finding will be mistaken for a result, and the result that never happened (or has not happened yet) gets out there even though it is not real.

But, I just heard about a project I want to mention, not because it is more likely than other projects to succeed, but just because I think the idea is interesting, and it relates to a larger anthropological problem in the advancement of green technology. Continue reading A big step in battery technology?

Atheist Voices of MN Authors' Event – Har Mar Barnes & Noble

Wed, October 10th

Join us at the Barnes & Noble in Har Mar Mall in Roseville at 7pm, Wednesday, October 10 for a fun evening. The Atheist Voices of Minnesota will be featured for an authors’ event and we would love to see a room full of occupied seats!

Six of the book authors will read and/or discuss their essays and then be available to take questions from attendees. The featured authors are Norman Barrett Wiik, Stephanie Zvan, Robin Raianiemi, Tim Wick, Kori Hennessy, and August Berkshire. The host will be Eric Jayne. After the one hour (maybe an hour and a half) event some of us will gather at the Old Chicago restaurant for social time.

The event is currently being promoted inside the Har Mar Barnes & Noble store with posters and complimentary bookmarks. It’s also featured on their website. Books will be available for purchase at the Barnes & Noble store.

This will be another great opportunity to promote Atheist Voices of Minnesota and the Minnesota Atheists organization. All net proceeds from the sale of Atheist Voices of Minnesota go directly to Minnesota Atheists. This charitable book is the result of a collaborative effort by nearly 50 atheists. It is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other booksellers, and directly through the Minnesota Atheists online store. It’s also available for Kindle and Nook.

The Boy Scouts Suck

When I was a kid there were no boy scouts. Well, there were, but not exactly where I lived. There were cub scouts and I was a member, and older kids in my neighborhood were boy scouts, but then somehow when it came time for me to leave the Cub Scouts and join Boy Scouts, they had mysteriously disappeared, so instead, I joined a different group, the Young Marines. We Young Marines ate boy scouts for snacks.

[ADDED: I’ve noticed that this petition is getting signatures at a rate of hundreds per minute.]

But anyway…I actually have very little sympathy for people who join the Scouts and then after a few years of doing their bidding find out that the organization is intolerant and evil. That’s what happened to Ryan, this kid who was a member of Troop 212, and then was ready to become an Eagle Scout because he had killed a deer with his teeth or whatever, but just before that he had come out as gay, and so he can’t be an Eagle Scout because the Boy Scouts are, as is widely known to everyone on the planet, anti-gay. Ryan’s parents should have steered him away from the Scouts when he was younger, not because of his potential sexual orientation but simply because every parent in this country that doesn’t is ether supporting a right wing cause on purpose or is ignorant. But instead, Ryan’s family supported his membership in the Boy Scouts, and now that they can’t get what they want, they have initiated a petition on Change.org to force the Scouts to do the right thing.

OK, I’m talking tough here… the truth is, I feel badly for Ryan, and I hope he gets is Eagle Scout Hat or whatever. But really, let’s keep this very clear: The real message is not that Ryan should become an Eagle Scout; The real message is that the Scouts have to dry up and blow away because they represent a deeply entrenched and 19th century organization providing negative social conditioning that is totally out of step. Or, they could totally reform. Perhaps they can get sliced to ribbons with a series of killer court decisions and law suits, so they spend so much money defending their intolerant ways that they nearly go out of business and then reform. (Though so far that hasn’t worked.) Or perhaps we should send in the Young Marines. Whatever. The point is, this is not about Ryan or Troop 212. It is about society.

I did sign the petition. They are almost to 200,000 signatures as of this writing. I’ve pasted the petition and a link to it below. It would be fun to watch this petition reach a million or so signatures. But what would probably be better is to watch thinking parents who don’t want to indoctrinate their children into intolerance stop sending their kids to the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts suck.

Here is the petition:

I’m urging leaders from Troop 212 to reject the Boy Scouts of America’s discriminatory anti-gay policy and to give Ryan Andresen the Eagle award he’s earned.

Ryan joined the Boy Scouts when he was just six years old, and since then, he’s dreamed of earning his Eagle award — the highest rank in the Boy Scouts.

Ryan is now a senior in high school, and just completed the final requirements to earn his Eagle Award. He’s an honor student with great SAT scores, who’s hoping to attend the University of San Francisco. But because he recently came out to his friends and family as gay, leaders from your troop say they won’t approve his Eagle award.

This is unfair and wrong.

A Scout earns his Eagle by earning many badges, completing all lower Scout rank requirements, and carrying out an approved final project. So Ryan decided to build a “Tolerance Wall” for his school, to show bully victims — like Ryan — that they are not alone. Ryan worked countless hours with elementary students to amass a wall of 288 unique tiles, all illustrating acts of kindness.

Many troops around the country are standing up, choosing to reject the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policy. I sincerely hope that Ryan’s troop — Troop 212 — will become one of them.

“Citizenship in the Community,” a merit badge earned, means standing up for what is right, and I am proud of Ryan for doing just that. Will you stand with him, too?


[Your name]

Click here to sign.

Romney did "win" the debate

Romney did three things at the debate:

1) He totally randomized his policies, thus putting into effect an excellent version of the Chewbaca Defense;

2) He made up his own rules, forcing Obama to follow them and embarrassing PBS and Jim Lehrer; and

3) He made a bunch of independents giddy, so when the post-debate polls were carried out, he ends up winning or being statistically even in key swing states.

Today’s polls are worrisome unless you hate America and The Earth. Obama is up only 2 points across the board, and Romney has pulled ahead (though statistically even) in Florida and Virginia. Ohio has become a toss-up.

Future debates might be different. For one thing, the Obama camp will probably have a better strategy. Both Obama and Lerher were blind sided by Romney’s approach. There will be a different moderator for the next debate, CNN’s Candy Crowley. I know nothing about her, but I imagine she watched the first debate and is already trying to figure out how to contain Mr. Priv. So, a second factor will be both the moderator and the approach taken. Third, the next debate will be in a town meeting format. Obama always does well with real people, and Romney tends to say the wrong things when confronted with real humans, often demonstrating his well known disdain. Also, this will be a “crowd” that the Romney camp will have less than the usual control over.

Over the days before the first debate, almost everybody seemed to have decided that the election was already over.

The election is not already over.

Same Sex Marriage at the Polls

This WILL be an historic year at the polls when it comes to the issue of same-sex marriage. The question remains, though, what will this year’s election, and the society voting in it, be remembered for? There four states with ballot items related to this issue: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

I heard the following from a state legislator the other day. The pages who come from all over the state, brought in by elected members of both of our ruling parties, get together and do political and educational stuff. One thing they do is to vote on issues. Here are two things this legislator was told by these young, pr-voting age kids from across Minnesota:

1) We voted unanimously in favor of same sex marriage (against the proposed amendment to ban it constitutionally); and

2) We’re coming. If the conservatives want to ban same sex marriage, they better do it this year in the Constitution, because in a couple of years it will be impossible to pass such a law. Because we’re coming.

One way to help might be to click here.

And if you are in Minnesota, also click here.